Criminal Justice

Sex-assault reports cut by 60 percent after Navy starts program focused on recruit training, alcohol

Amidst widespread recognition that sexual harassment and even sexual assault of subordinates, colleagues and outsiders is a problem in the U.S. military, one Navy base seems to have found a solution.

At the Great Lakes naval station north of Chicago, officials have designed a boot camp training program that greets recruits, from the moment they arrive, with the message that sexual assault is a crime and alcohol use, by either the perpetrator or the victim, is not a defense, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

The program also focuses on training recruits to look out for others and intervene when they see a potential issue, often alcohol-related, before the situation gets out of control.

Meanwhile, the base has imposed restrictions on pubs on its grounds that serve alcohol to those 21 and over, including a rule against buying rounds for others and a requirement that individuals line up and show identification to buy one drink. Outside the base, plain-clothes investigators keep watch on bars, clubs, bus and train stations throughout the region. The base’s training commander, Captain Henry P. Roux Jr., personally visits bars from Waukegan to Chicago, speaking to managers and handing out his 24/7 phone number, the Times reports.

The message he conveys to them, says Roux, is: “You can say to any sailor that his or her commanding officer gave you permission to call me anytime you see a problem.”

Since the program began in 2011, reports of sexual assault have dropped by 60 percent, the article says, and the Great Lakes approach is now being used as a model elsewhere.

“It is our job to inculcate them into our culture, which is one that does not tolerate sexual assault,” said Capt. John T. Dye, the boot camp commander at Great Lakes.

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